The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
[Received June 20—1:20 p.m.]
243. Litvinov handed me today the following draft of note:
“Excellency: I have the honor to refer to recent conversations in regard to commerce between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and to the trade agreements program of the United States and to confirm and to make of record by this note the following agreement which has been reached between the Governments of our respective countries:
- “1. With respect to customs duties or charges of any kind imposed on or in connection with importation or exportation, and with respect to the method of levying such duties or charges and with respect to all rules and formalities in connection with importation or exportation and with respect to all laws or regulations affecting the sale, taxation or use of imported goods within the country, any advantage, favor, privilege or immunity which has been or may hereafter be granted by the United States of America to any article originating in or destined for any third country shall as long as this agreement remain in force be accorded immediately and unconditionally to the like [Page 203] article originating in or destined for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
- This treatment shall especially be applied with respect to customs duties proclaimed by the President of the United States of America pursuant to any trade agreement ratified or having come into force under the authority of the Act entitled ‘An Act to Amend the Tariff Act of 1930’ approved June 12th, 1934. It is understood that nothing in this agreement shall be construed to require the application to articles, the growth, produce or manufacture of the Soviet Union of duties or exemptions from duties proclaimed pursuant to any trade agreement between the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba which has been or may hereafter be concluded.
- 2. On its part the Government of the Soviet Socialist Republics will take steps to increase substantially the amount of purchases in the United States for export to the Soviet Union of articles the growth, produce or manufacture of the United States of America.
- 3. This agreement shall come into force on the date of signature thereof. It shall continue in effect for 12 months. Both parties agree that not less than 30 days prior to the expiration of the aforesaid period of 12 months they shall start negotiations regarding the extension of the period during which the present agreement shall continue in force. Accept Excellency the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.”
He also handed me the following draft of a supplementary letter:
“Dear Ambassador: In reply to your inquiry regarding the intended purchases by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in the United States of America within the next 12 months, I have the honor to bring to your knowledge that, according to information received from the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade, it is intended to purchase in the United States of America goods to the value of 30 million dollars.
“Accept dear Ambassador the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.”
Litvinov said that his note had been drafted in the language of a treaty which had been signed in 1935 by the United States and Czechoslovakia.28
I replied that I did not wish to comment on his draft note before having studied it but should like to ask him certain questions which a cursory glance raised in my mind: (1) Would the Government of the Soviet Union have any objection to repeating the pledge in article 1 of his note mutatis mutandis replacing the words “United States of America” by “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” and “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” by “United States of America”?
He replied that the Soviet Government would have no objection to making such a pledge; but that just as we had insisted on withdrawing [Page 204] the application of the agreement to Cuba so the Soviet Government would be obliged under its habitual treaty practice to reserve from the application of the agreement Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Sinkiang and Outer Mongolia.
It is my understanding, therefore, that between articles 1 and 2 of the draft note the Soviet Government is ready to include the first paragraph of article 1 mutatis mutandis and a second paragraph reading “It is understood that nothing in this agreement shall be construed to require the application to articles the growth, produce or manufacture of the United States of America of duties or exemptions from duties proclaimed pursuant to any trade agreement between the Soviet Union and Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Sinkiang and Outer Mongolia which have been or may hereafter be concluded. [”]
(2) I then asked Litvinov if he could define for me more exactly the meaning of the words in his supplementary letter “it is intended to purchase, et cetera”. He said that it was the genuine intention of the Soviet Government to purchase this amount of goods in the United States this year and that this amount of goods would be purchased unless entirely unforeseen circumstances should arise. I pointed out that it would be much more satisfactory in every way if he could replace the words “will”. He replied that it was absolutely out of the question for the Soviet Government to make a definite pledge of this nature.
With regard to the expression of intention in the supplementary letter, I venture to call to the attention of the Department the statement made to me yesterday by the German Commercial Attaché here to the effect that in spite of the fact that the German Government had extended large credits to the Soviet Government and that the Soviet Government had expressed its intention to utilize these credits the Soviet Government was purchasing almost nothing in Germany and was not utilizing those credits.
Nevertheless, I have reason to believe that Stalin has recently told all the commissar[s] that he is most dissatisfied with the present state of relations between the Soviet Union and the United States and has directed them to pursue a policy of greater friendliness and if the note of Litvinov to me should be published and commented on by the American press as a pledge to purchase $30,000,000 worth of goods this year the Soviet Government would risk jeopardizing the remnant of its good will in the United States by failing to adhere to its expressed intention.
- For text of the treaty signed on March 29, 1935, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 74, or 49 Stat. 3674.↩